The Doting Child

Two of the most beloved characters in King Lear, Cordelia and Edgar are the play’s doting children towards their fathers. The two are characterized as morally intact because they act as caregivers for their aging fathers. Furthermore, both characters are praised for their loyalty to their respective patriarch.

King Lear sends lots of quite obvious messages about respecting elders, power lying with the patriarch, and the role of children, but I found Cordelia and Edgar to be the most interesting incarnations of such messaging. When examining Cordelia and Edgar, especially in contrast to their evil siblings Goneril, Reagan, and Edmund, the pair is intended to show the audience the ideal children. But what does that mean? According to Shakesphere, the ideal child is doting, loyal, unquestioning, and above all respectful of the patriarch.

When reading the article “Queen Lear” similar qualities of the doting child apply to the author, and he too was praised for his kind words towards his mother. Many people are celebrated for their loyalty and respect for their parents, but at what cost? Must a child obey their parents wishes regardless of age, or circumstance? Is one child worse than another because they do not act in a way that is beneficial to the parent?

I am aware I sound very much like a young person here, and I did like the characters of Cordelia and Edgar much more than their siblings, but I found the underlying messaging of what a good child is very compelling. Through the characterization of Cordelia and Edgar, Shakesphere clearly depicts how the ideal child should act, loyal and respectful at all times. King Lear also depicts the many ways a character could be a bad child, leaving the readers with the choice to be a incredibly doting child, or a villain. I personally do not believe that being a “good” child could be so binary.

One thought on “The Doting Child

  1. VAN T.

    Your exploration of the binary of a GOOD/bad child was compelling, I liked the connection you brought from the “Queen Lear” article. It helped define either side of the binary and your questioning of this binary is crucial to child development because it gives the idea that child isn’t able to disobey or act out to develop without the fear of being seen as bad or villainous.


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